Automobile theft in DC is covered by the unauthorized use of the motor vehicle statute in DC, which prohibits taking, using, or operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent. It is helpful to have an experienced theft lawyer negotiate on behalf of the accused after reviewing the allegations carefully. Contact a DC auto theft lawyer as soon as possible to begin discussing your case.
Theft of an automobile is punishable under the DC statutes that criminalize unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. For the theft of an automobile, the government is required to prove that a person took the vehicle without the owner’s consent and did so for their own use or purpose.
This is different from a carjacking case where the government is required to prove that the person either knowingly or recklessly took immediate possession of someone’s vehicle using force or violence. Because of the force or violence involved in a carjacking case, the potential penalties are more severe than an auto theft case.
When a person is convicted of automobile theft in DC, the maximum potential penalties are five years in prison, a fine of $12,500, or both. A conviction for carjacking carries more severe penalties. As a DC auto theft lawyer knows, the mandatory minimum penalty for carjacking is seven years in prison and the maximum penalty is 21 years in prison, a $75,000 fine, or both.
With more advanced tracking systems technology and services such as OnStar, it is easier for law enforcement to track stolen vehicles and once located, they can disable the accelerator or block the ignition.
Other GPS based services even send the vehicle’s owner a text message if the vehicle is moved and law enforcement is alerted more quickly. Car owners can also purchase smart keys, which are unique to a vehicle and cannot be replicated.
A smart key is the only single key that can operate the vehicle, which acts as an auto theft prevention tool. The increasing use of other anti-theft devices such as alarms and ignition disablers also act as theft deterrents.
For a productive initial consultation, it is helpful for a person to have information showing that they had the owner’s consent to operate the automobile, names of any witnesses who could provide information to that effect, and names of any witnesses who were with the person at the time of the alleged theft.
Names of any witnesses or documentation to show that the person was not in the location of the theft when it occurred are always extremely helpful to the person’s lawyer. Information about the person’s past criminal history or lack of criminal history also helps prepare DC auto theft lawyer for when it comes time to start negotiating with the prosecutor.
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